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TH E BULLETIN• SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23, 20'I2

Paul helpsguide Clippers' reboot By Mark Heisler New York Times News Service

LOS ANGELES — In Clippers lore, which is no longer a comedy routine, much of the credit for this season's rise to No. 2 in the West7'/2 games ahead of the Lakers after Saturday — goes to a m akeshift committee of coach Vinny Del Negro; the team president, Andy Roeser; and the assistant personnel director, Gary Sacks, who jumped in after their vice president for basketball operations bolted on the eve of last summer's NBA free-

agent signing period. On their own, they acquired Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes and Grant Hill for this season's club. One unofficial, uncredited member of the committee, point guard Chris Paul, was the makeover's driving force. Paul will be a free agent at the end of this season, and the Clippers are doing whatever they can to keep him

happy.

Or, as a Clippers official with knowledge of last summer's activity put it, "This is Chris' roster." "Um, well, I think a lot of credit goes to our front office, too, for involving me in a lot of stuff that took place," Paul said recently when asked about his role. He added: "I don't know. I'm just happy because we really have a complete team." Complete i t def i n itely seems to be, with the team

entering today enjoying a 20-6 record — second in the NBA only to Oklahoma City — and a franchise-record 12game winning streak. And with that success has come increasing recognition. For the mostly inept Clippers of yore, the Christmas Day lineup was something for them to watch on television like urchins with their noses pressed against a window. But for the second season in a row, the Clippers are

on Tuesday's marquee, along with Miami, Oklahoma City, Boston, Chicago, the Knicks and, of course, the Lakers. If the Lakers are still the headliners, facing the Knicks in a prime Christmas afternoon slot on ABC, it is as much because of their magical name as anything else. The Clippers are still being eclipsed somewhat in Los Angeles by the Lakers' tales of woe. Then again, if the Clippers have to be the caboose on Christmas, playing Denver in the last of five games while the Lakers go earlier, so be it. Prime game, late game, the Clippers, led by Paul, are for reaL They have played so well that it is easy to forget they lost their vice president for basketball operations, Neil Olshey, who made the deal to acquire Paul last December, then jumped to the Portland Trail Blazers last summer after the Clippers let his contract expire without offering him an extension. But within days, the ad hoc Clippers committee was at work on the moves that added Crawford, B a rnes, Hill and Odom to the team, although th e a c quisitions were eclipsed by the Lakers' bombshell deals to land Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. G oing i nt o t h e w e e k end, Howard and Nash had played two games together. The upgraded Clippers had the No. 2 player in assists in

Paul (9.4 per game) and the NBA's No. 2 bench, which was averaging 41.9 points

NBA per game going into Friday night's victory over Sacramento. The Lakers? Their bench is No. 29, averaging 24.8. Paul began shaping the Clippers'roster even before he became part of it Dec. 15, 2011, conveying his conditions for committing himself to the team for two seasons during the t r ade negotiations with the New Orleans Hornets. Paul wanted Blake Griffin locked up. The Clippers said they had every inten-

tion of doing so (and they did in July, signing him to a five-year, $95 million extension). Paul wanted to know if the Clippers would match Golden State's four-year, $43 million offer sheet to center DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers did, and kept him. Paul's interest extended to how many first-round draft picks the Clippers were giving up to get him, not because he wanted to be flattered but because he did not want the Clippers, the team he was about to join, to mortgage their future. Few NBA players have a clue who might be available two drafts in the future, but Paul, who remains active in youth basketball, can go further than that. "That guy, Jabari Parker, I've been watching him play for three years," Paul said of Parker, a 6-foot-8 high school forward from Chicago who has announced he is going to Duke. "Eric Bledsoe," he added,referring to one of his backcourt collaborators on the Clippers, "was a camper of mine when I had my first point-guard elite camp." Gregarious and d r i ven, Paul, 27, spent his first six seasons in the NBA with the too-often-ragtag Ho r n ets, which was a surefire way to learn the importance of having a solid organization. And if one is now being b uilt in hi s i m age in L o s Angeles, so much the better. After last season's finish, one game behind the Lakers, exiting the playoffs one day before they did, the Clippers are focused as never before on re-signing Paul, starting with the once frugal owner, Donald T. Sterling, who has never had a team like this in more than three decades. "I think we've put together the best roster we've ever had," said Roeser, the team president and a veteran of 29 Clippers seasons, most of them gloomy. "Mr. Sterling has been more supportive than you can imagine. I think he's hungrier than you can even imagine to see his team win a championship." But Sterling still has his foibles, like his disinclination to securekey employees for the future until the market dictates the price. As with Olshey, that is often too late. Del Negro, who guided the Clippers to a 40-26 record lastseason in hissecond year as coach, and is doing even better now, is on an expiring contract. Paul turned down a contract extension from the Clippers last summer, even while trying to turn the franchise into something he can call home. "Everybody who k n ows me knows I get invested into things very, very quickly," Paul said. "I'm all Clippers now and I've loved every minute of it, and we're going to keep this thing going."

NBA ROUNDUP

az win i The Associated Press PORTLAND — Those naysayers who don't believe the Portland Trail B lazers wi ll have much success in a rebuilding season might have it all wrong, at least according to Damian Lillard. The NBA's reigning Rookie of the Month had 25 points and seven assistsas the Blazers pulled above .500 (13-12) with a 96-93 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. Eighteen of L i l lard's points came in the second half. I t w a s P o r t land's f i f t h straight win — t h e t e am's longeststreak since February 2011 when they won six in a row. "It lets us know we're going in the right direction," Lillard said. "For us to be able to come from four games below .500 and be able to get on a winning streak and get it done, I think it says a lot about where we're headed." J.J. Hickson had 19 points and 15 rebounds for his seventh straight double-double, and Nicolas Batum had 13 points, nine r ebounds and eight assists. While it is only December, the Blazers are in the thick of the Western Conference race. "I'm not going to say we're that good but I think we're capable of being a playoff team as long as we keep doing what we're doing," Lillard said. Sasha Pavolic and Lillard made consecutive 3-pointers as Portland pulled in f r ont 92-85 with 4:02 left. The Suns got to within 94-91 on Marcin Gortat's layup with I:24 to go. After Lillard's 19-foot, step-

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Don Ryan/The Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum, right, shoots over Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat during the first quarter of Saturday night's game in Portland.

Sunday. He scored 17 points. and gotas close as 63-62 after Shooting g u ar d W e s ley a long jumper from Lillard. Matthews also started for the The Suns answered with a Blazers, despite ongoing hip 10-1 run to make it 73-63, but the Blazers again caught up. pain, but played only a short Lillard's hook shot tied it with time. Matthews came out of the game with 2:11 left in the 20 seconds left in the third first quarter and headed for the quarter. locker room. He didn't return, H ickson's dunk an d f r ee back jumper, Jared Dudley and the Blazers announced af- throw to open the fourth quarhad a layup for the Suns to ter the game that he would not ter gave the Blazers a 78-75 make it 96-93. Phoenix furi- accompany the team to Sac- lead. Ronnie Price's layup gave ously tried to get off a shot in ramento for tonight's game the Blazersan 84-83 edge with the final seconds, but Goran against the Kings. 6:28 left, and Lillard added a Dragic missed a 3 - pointer, Former Blazer Sebastian pair of free throws. O'Neal is impressed by Liland Shannon Brown missed a Telfair's steal led to a pull-up 3-pointer that gave the Suns a lard, who had 24points against short jumper. Gortat had 18 points and 41-35 lead midwaythrough the the Suns earlier this season. "It's funny because you can't nine rebounds for the Suns, second quarter. Another former Blazer, Jermaine O'Neal, read his face. Sometimes the who led by as many as 12 points in the first half. The loss pushed the lead to 47-35 with light which is the glare ofbeing snapped a four-game winning a jumper and a pair of free a rookie in the NBA becomes streak for Phoenix. throws to cap a 14-2 Phoenix so bright that you see it affect Portland welcomed back run. some of the guys emotionally LaMarcus Aldridge; the AllLuis Scola's 19-foot jumper or physically," O'Neal said. Star forward sprained his left made it 53-44 for the Suns "He does a great job keeping ankle in the final minute of at the break, but P ortland his demeanor. He loves the big a win over New Orleans last jumped out in the second half shot, obviously, he took some

Standings NATIONALBASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

ConferenceGlance AllTimesPST EASTE RNCONFERENCE W t Pct GB d-Miami 18 6 750 d-NewYork 19 7 731 Atlanta 16 9 640 2'/z d-Chicago 15 11 577 4 Indiana 16 12 571 4 Milwaukee 14 12 538 5 Brooklyn 13 12 520 5'/z Boston 13 13 500 6 Philadelphia 13 14 481 6'iz Orlando 12 14 462 7 Toronto 9 19 321 0 Detroit 9 2 1 300 12 Charlotte 7 2 0 259 12'/z Cleveland 6 23 207 14'/2 Washington 3 2 2 120 15'iz WESTE RN CONFER ENCE W t Pct GB d-Oklahoma City 21 5 B08 d-LA. Clippers 20 6 769 1 d-Memphis 18 7 720 2'/2 SanAntonio 20 8 714 2 GoldenState 18 10 643 4 Minnesota 13 0 542 7 Houston 14 12 538 7 Denver 15 13 536 7 Portland 13 12 520 P/~ Utah 14 14 500 8 LA.Lakers 13 14 481 8'/z Dallas 12 15 444 91/2 Phoenix u 1 6 407 10'/~ Sacramento 8 1 8 308 13 NewOrleans 5 22 185 16'/2 d-divisionleader

Saturday's Games Atlantagz chicago75 Detroit 96,Washington 87 M<ami105,Utah89 Houston121,Memphis 96 Indiana81, NewOrleans75 Cleveland94,MilwaukeeB2

Denveru0, charlotte88 Portland96,Phoenix93 LA. Lakers118,GoldenState115, OT Today'sGames PhiladelphiaatBrooklyn,noon Minnesotaat NewYork, 2p.m. Utah atOrlando,3p.m. Dallas atSanAntonio, 4p.m LA. Clippers atPhoenix, 5p.m. PortlandatSacramento, 6p.m.

9), Portland53(Hickson15). Assists—Phoenix 26 (Dudley10), Portland21(Batum8). Total Foulsphoenix18, portland 1zTechnicals—phoenix defensivethreesecond.A—19,746I19,980).

Heat105, Jazz 89 UTAH(89)

Ma.Williams 7-12 0-0 16, Millsap 3-9 5-6 11, Jefferson2-8 2-2 6, M. Williams2-3 0-0 5, Foye 1-9 0-02, Favors2-86-610, Hayward5-8 3-315, Watson1-30-02, Carroll 1-41-2 3, Kanter2-2 0-0 4, Tinsley2-32-28, Burks2-31-3 5, Evans0-1 2 2 2. Totals 30-7322-26 89. MIAMI(105) James11-207-1030,Battier4-83-315, Haslem 3-6 0-0 6, Chalmers2-5 0-0 5, Wade8-14 5-6 21, Allen 4-53-313, Miller2-30-06, Cole2-60-05, Anthony2-40-04,Hasis010 00, Pittman0-00-0 0, Jones0-10-0 0.Totals 38-7318-22 105. Utah 25 18 20 26 — 89 Miami 28 19 26 32 — 105

Pistons 96, Wizards 87 DETROIT(96) Prince 3-6 1-2 7,MaxieI 5-10 2-2 1Z Monroe 6-0 1-313, Knight3-12 3-310, Singler 1-60-0 2, Stuckey4-12 9-1018, Drummond 2-8 0-0 4 Daye 2-60-06, Villanueva8-130-019,Bynum2-40-05. Totals 36-8816-20 96. WASHINGTON (87) Webster1-6 2-2 4,Nene2-8 6-610, Dkafor 5-9 4-6 14, Crawford4-13 11-1221, Beal 7-170-014, Seraphin3-8 0-2 6, Martin4-9 0-2 10,Vesely2-5 2-2 6, Livingston1-2 0-0 z Totals 29-77 25-32 87. 22 32 20 22 — 96 Detroit 13 22 29 23 — 87 Washington

Blazers 96, Suns93 PHOENIX (93) Dudley 3-72-2 8, Scola3-9 0-0 6, Gortat9-12

0018, Dragic 4-13 0-010, Brown7-17 0-015, Morris 5-101-2 11,O'Neal4-7 5-7 13,Telfair 1-4 0-0 3, Tucker 3-6 0-0 6, Beasley1-4 0-03. Totals 40-89 8-11 93.

PORTLAND (96)

Batum4-123-313, Aldridge 5-157-817, Hickson 8 113519, Lillard 713 9-1025,Matthews02 0-00, Babbitt1-30-03, Claver3-40-07, Price2-4 1-2 5, Leonard 2-2 0-04, Barton0-00-00, Pavlovic 1-3 0-0 3.Totals 33-69 23-28 96. Phoenix 25 28 22 18 — 93 Portland 23 21 31 21 — 96 3 Point Goals Phoenix 5 19 (Dragic 2 5, Beasley1-1, Te fair1-3, Brown1-4,Morris0-1,Scola0-1, Dudley0-4), Portland7-20 (Lillard 2-5, Batum2-9, Claver1-1,Babbitt1-2, Pavlovic1-2 Matthews0-1). FouledOut—None. Rebounds—Phoenix 40 IGortat

3-411, Conley7-122-216, Allen5-81-211, Pondexter 6-130 014,Speights 3 400 6, Bayless2-6 1-2 5, Arthur 4-8 0-0 8,Ellington1-2 0-0 2, Selby 1-4 3-4 5, Haddadi1-10-0 z Totals 42-79 1014 96. HOUSTON (121) Parsons3-70-07, Morris 6-81-1 16,Asik5-94614, Lin 5-124-415, Harden9-1310-12 31 Smith 5-6 0-010, Dougla4-131-1 s 10, Delfino4-90-011, Aldrich 0-1 0-00, Motieiunas1-21-23, Cook1-1002,Machado1-10-Oz Totals 44-8221-26121. Memphis 32 22 24 18 — 96 Houston 33 31 30 27 — 121

Nuggets110, Bobcats 88 CHARLOTTE (88)

Kidd-Gilchrist 5-7 1-211, Mullens6-142-4 16, Biyombo 0-3 3-4 3, Walker4-150-0 8, Taylor 2-10 0-0 4, Haywood 0-1 0-0 0, Sessions8-13 7-9 23, Williams 4-121-3 10, Diop 1-50-0 2, Warrick2-6 3-6 7, Adrien 1-12-2 4.Totals 33-87 19-3088.

DENVER (110) Gallinari 4-0 1-212, Faried6-103-415, Koufos 8100 016, Lawson 0 40 00, Iguodala6 92 215, Brewer5-u 0-010, McGee7-80-014, A.Miler0-1 0-0 0, Hamilton 5-120-1 11, Fournier3-6 1-2 8, Randolph2-52-26, Mozgov1-21-2 3, QMiler0-3 0-00.Totals47-9210-15110. Charlotte 23 23 19 23 — 88 Denver 29 35 24 22 — 110

ping Memphis. P acers...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 1 H ornets...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 NEW ORLEANS — David West scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and Indiana overcame a 22-point deficit to hand New Orleans its 11th straight loss. C avaliers ...... . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 B ucks ...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 2 MILWAUKEE Dion Waiters scored 18 points and C leveland snapped a s i x game losing streak by beating Milwaukee. Nuggets..... . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 B obcats ...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 DENVER — K o sta K oufos scored a season-high 16 points, and Kenneth Faried and Andre Iguodala added 15 pointsapiece as Denver beat Charlotte and sent the Bobcats to their 15th consecutive loss.

CHICAGO (75) Deng 5-141-1 11,Boozer2-6 4-4 8, Noah5-9

0-010, Hinrich3-110-07,Belinelli 2-5 0-04, Butler 4-5 0-0 9, Gibson2-5 0-0 4, Robinson3-8 1-19, M.Teagu e 4-80-28,Mohammed 1-30-02,Radmanovic1-2 0-0 3.Totals 32-76 6-8 75.

ATLANTA (92)

Korver 4-82-213, Smith6-120-012, Horiord 912 2-2 20,J.Teague5-120-0 11,WiIliams 6-121-1 16, Morrow3-71-1 7,Tolliver0-1 1-21, Pachulia 26 2-2 6,Johnson3-40-0 6, Scott0-1 0-00, Jenkins 0-20-00. Totals38-77 9-1092. Chicago 21 16 17 21 — 75 Atlanta 17 36 25 14 — 92

Pacers 81, Hornets 75 INDIANA I81)

George6-154-517, West11-203-425, Hibbert 3-8 0-2 6, Hill3-8 3-4 12,Stephenson5-10 0-0 10,

Mahinmi3-7 0-16,T.Hansbrough2-30-04, Young 0-2 0-0 0, BHansbrough0-1 0-0 0, Augustin0-3

1-2 1 Totals33-77 11-18 81. NEWORLEANS(75) Thomas1-20-02, Davis5-140-010, Lopez1116 2 2 24, jiasquez61 7 1-1 14, Rivers 312 1-27, Anderso n2-90-06,Mason2-30-04,McGuire0-0 0-0 0 Roberts1-4 0-0 3, Henry2-5 1-2 5. Totals 33-82 5-7 75. Indiana 11 18 24 28 — 81 NewOrleans 18 2 8 7 2 2 — 75

Lakers118, Warriors115 (OT) LA. tAKERsI118)

Morris 3-7 0-0 6,Gasol4-0 1-1 9, Howard4-8 3 411, Nash5B0-012, Bryant16-410-134, Meeks 4-92-212, WorldPeace7-133-420, HiI 6-92-214, Duhon0-10-00. TotaIs 49-107 11-14 118. GOLDEN STATE(115) Barnes6-130-0 13, Lee9-182-2 20, Ezeli 1-3 0-0 2, CurryB-231-1 20,Thompson6-16 3-4 18, Biedrins 0 00-0 0, Jack13-19 0-029, Landry3 8 6-612, Green0-21-2 1, Jenkins0-10-0 0. Totals 46-103 13-15 115. LA. Lakers 3 1 22 21 34 10 — 118 GoldenState 27 34 26 21 7 — 115

Cavaliers 94, Bucks 82 CLEVELAND (94)

Gee4-122-210, Thompson6-8 2-414, Zeller414 3-3 11, Irving6-122-2 15,Waiters 9 170 0 18, Walton3-90-07 Gibson0-20-00, Miles5-93-316, Pargo1-51-2 3 Totals38-8813-16 94. MILWAUKEE (82) Daniel s3-83-69,MbahaMoute1-72-34,Sanders0-32-22,Jennings3-130-07,Ellis15-275-637, l yasova 2-61-2 6, Dunleavy3-7 2-28, Udoh1-41-2 3, Lamb230-04, Gooden1-100z Henson0000 0.Totals 31-79 16-23 82. Cleveland 19 27 25 23 — 94 Milwaukee 19 18 26 19 — 82

HOLIDAY DEADLINES The Bulletin pu~ o~ j0 111I8» ~

Hawks92, Bulls 75

Saturday's Games

ChrisCarlson/The Associated Press

big ones. I think he's definitely the future of this team." Also on Saturday: Lakers...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 Warriors..... . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 OAKLAND, Calif. — Kobe Bryant had 34 points and 10 rebounds, Steve Nash finished with 12 points and nine assists in his first game in almost two months, and Los Angeles Lakers rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Golden State in overtime. Heat..... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 J azz..... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 9 MIAMI — L eBron James scored 30 p o ints, D w yane Wade added 21 points and seven assists, and Miami rode the strength of a big third-quarter run to beat Utah. H awks...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 B ulls ...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 5 ATLANTA — A l H o r ford had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and every A t l anta s t arter scored in double figures as the Hawks routed Chicago to snap a two-game losing streak. P istons..... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 W izards ...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 7 WASHINGTON — Charlie Villanueva scored 19 points, Rodney Stuckey added 18, and Detroit earned its second win in tw o nights over Washington. Rockets ...... . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 G rizzlies..... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 6 HOUSTON — James Harden scored 31 points with eight assists, and Houston earned its third straight win by top-

NBA SCOREBOARD

Summaries

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, has his team in the midst of a12-game winning streak.

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~ishes gou a h'afe and Merrg Christmas

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Bulletin Daily Paper 12-23-12  

The Bulletin Daily print edition for Sunday December 23, 2012

Bulletin Daily Paper 12-23-12  

The Bulletin Daily print edition for Sunday December 23, 2012